Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Toronto FC are about to play the biggest match in their history on Tuesday night against a Mexican team. First it was Tigres, then Club América and now, the only team in between them and their first Champions League title, Chivas Guadalajara. The Mexican powerhouse will be TFC’s toughest opponent yet as their team, and the fans that support them, are second-to-none among teams in Liga MX, just ask the New York Red Bulls who had their stadium invaded by visiting supporters in the semi-final.
To combat a tough Chivas side, Greg Vanney will have to put out his strongest-available side, a dramatic difference from what we saw in Colorado on the weekend, as Vanney opted to leave nine of his likely starting 11 players in Toronto. For this game, I expect that we’ll see the 3-5-2 formation used by Vanney in the tournament thus far.
Bono was one of the many players rested against Colorado, so he should be fresh and ready to go in this one. The defenders have looked shaky recently, so it is up to Bono to be that crucial last line of defence.
Eriq Zavaleta, Drew Moor, Gregory van der Wiel
Van der Wiel was rested against the Rapids, but Zavaleta and Moor both played on Saturday in Colorado. In an ideal situation, Chris Mavinga would have been ready for this one, but that seems unlikely as he is still struggling with an injury. The signing of Jason Hernandez provides some much-needed depth at centre-back, but Zavaleta and Moor should remain the two starters until Mavinga and Nick Hagglund are healthy.
Auro, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Justin Morrow
Justin Morrow may finally be back on the pitch with the Reds on Tuesday, and should take over the starting role from a resurgent Ashtone Morgan. If Morrow is still not 100% fit, another option would be starting Morgan and bringing Morrow off the bench at some point in the second half.
The midfield triangle of Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio and the captain Michael Bradley has been incredible this season, and the trio will be hoping to continue that hot form into this match. Osorio is tied for the tournament lead in goals (3) with his teammate Sebastian Giovinco.
As for Auro, he may be seeing a lot more time at right wingback as Gregory van der Wiel has shown that he is more than capable of playing in a back three. He’ll be looking to send crosses into the box and challenge Chivas with his ability to run at defenders.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Both players have had great moments at the start of this season, especially Giovinco, as the Atomic Ant is tied for the tournament lead in goals with three. Giovinco also leads the tournament in the shots category, 11 shots ahead of Bradley Wright-Phillips from the Red Bulls, and in fouls suffered, five more than Chivas’ Rodolfo Pizzaro. Altidore, who suffered an injury early on at the Azteca, has said that nothing would keep him out of this game, and since he's had time to rest up, he should be good to go.
Clint Irwin, Ashtone Morgan, Jason Hernandez, Nicolas Hasler, Ager Aketxe, Jay Chapman, Tosaint Ricketts
All of these players took part in the Colorado game, but should be ready to see action if called upon. Following trends from Toronto FC’s previous matches, I think it’s fair to say that at some point, Ricketts will come on for Altidore, and that Hasler will come on for one of Delgado/Osorio.